Absences giving Jeff Heath a chance

OXNARD, Calif. – Jeff Heath’s chances of making the Cowboys’ 53-man roster were remote at the starting of training camp and remain so as the team readies to close training camp, but the undrafted safety will not be able to complain about the opportunity.

With J.J. Wilcox missing practice to deal with the death of his mother and Matt Johnson (foot) and Eric Frampton (calf) dealing with injuries, Heath is getting a chance to show what he can do.

“You want everyone to be healthy, but injuries happen in football,” Heath said. “Once they do, you want to take advantage of them. I always felt like I had a chance, but now I’ll get a couple more reps, so that will be good.”

Heath will have to make his mark on special teams. He was working as the personal protector on the punt team. At Tuesday’s practice he was able to break up a pass to tight end Gavin Escobar, but he mistimed his jump on a deep ball to Anthony Armstrong, giving up a big completion.

Coach Jason Garrett said Heath “is certainly in the mix for this whole thing.”

It is quite a jump from Saginaw Valley State, where Heath started 30 of 35 games and had seven interceptions. He had a few other opportunities as an undrafted free agent but chose the Cowboys, in part because of the team’s willingness to give long shots a chance.

“I knew some of their best players, Miles (Austin) and Tony (Romo), they were undrafted guys,” Heath said. “Every year all around the league you hear stories of undrafted guys. I’ve always had the mindset that it’s not how you get there, it’s what you do once you’re there.”